Eternals movie poster
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Eternals
Eternals movie poster

Eternals Movie Review

Now available on Blu-ray and DVD (Buy on Amazon)

Marvel gets deserved flak for all its films looking and feeling the same, but if Eternals represents a deviation from the norm, are we sure this is what we want? A pretty but muted production, Eternals is supposed to operate at a grander scale than any other Marvel film but comes off as a second thrift Disney+ product.

Hot off her Academy Award win for Nomadland, director Chloé Zhao is an odd choice to helm a major comic book movie, though money aside, the odder choice may be the one that Zhao made to join this project in the first place. Also credited as a co-writer, Zhao gives us a Marvel movie that feels different from the rest. But that doesn’t mean it’s better.

I generally enjoy Marvel movies in the moment, though because they tend to lack any real boldness or surprises, I rarely revisit them. It’s unlikely I’ll revisit Eternals anytime soon, but for other reasons: it’s sort of a drag, with flat characters, routine action, and a plot that, in the end, is just more of the same.

About a group of immortal beings who have lived on Earth for millenia, Zhao has the unfortunate task of introducing a bunch of boring “people” to mainstream audiences. The cast is talented enough–Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Kit Harrington, and Kumail Nanjiana are the most recognizable of the bunch–but forced to share screen time with one another, few are given much if any time to develop their characters or convince us we should care about any of them. For example, Chan is the lead, but leaves little impression on you whatsoever.

It’s hard to imagine the inevitable, that these characters will ultimately interact with the broader Marvel universe; they’ll be the dull, awkward kids in the corner that no one else wants to talk to. Sure, they saved the Earth from destruction, but isn’t that old hat by now?

As far as action goes, Eternals has a few moderately exciting scenes, but the action comes too far apart and isn’t nearly thrilling enough to make any form of impact. The climax is downright weird, set on a remote beach which makes these otherworldly creatures feel small and unimportant, even as the fate of mankind hangs in the balance. Characters zoom around on the sand, the depth of their actions lost against the bleak and open landscape. 

It’s a wretched climax.

Eternals isn’t a complete waste, but it feels so below what you’ve come to expect of Marvel it’s hard to fathom what super producer Kevin Feige was thinking here. While I look forward to her next non-Marvel project, Zhao probably wasn’t the right fit for this property, but as is, this property isn’t a good fit for the MCU either. It’s not a terrible movie, but it’s the kind of Marvel movie that most fans will forget even exists. And that arguably is a much worse fate.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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